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Pair of old books find new home at Carnton Mansion

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Two books from the special collections section of the Williamson County Public Library’s main branch are on permanent loan to the Battle of Franklin Trust and will be available for perusal at historic Carnton Mansion.

Library Director Dolores Greenwald and special collections librarian Marcia Fraser recently presented the books to Beth Trescott, BOFT’s collections director, and BOFT curator Joanna Stephens. 

Trescott and Stephens learned of the existence of the books when they saw copies available online. A local search quickly found them to be on the special collections inventory list.

“We have a vast collection of old books,” Fraser said. “We really weren’t surprised when we found these books in our inventory.”

“The Civil War Tennessee Roll of Honor” with a first series copyright date of 1886 is a compilation of Tennessee military annals, regimental histories and memorial rolls compiled from original and official sources. It was edited by John Berrien Lindsley and published in Nashville by D.D. Publisher. The front flyleaf of the 910-page book is elegantly inscribed with the signature of George L. Cowan of Franklin. 

A quick peek into the book discloses information about Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 11th Regiment in 1863 on Page 690. It was a consolidation of 11 companies, including three battalions of partisan rangers who believed Forrest didn’t have the authority to consolidate them. Because of their resistance, Forrest had several officers “confined in Columbia, Tennessee” for a time.

The second book, “An Essay on Liberty and Slavery,” by Albert Taylor Bledsoe, a former professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia, has a first edition copyright date of 1856. The front inside endpaper of the 383-page book has the signature of Hattie McGavock inscribed in pencil and John McGavock’s bookplate attached below. Pencil marks on random pages suggest the book, which provides an insight of mid-19th century thoughts on slavery and the “inalienable rights” of slaves, had been read numerous times. 

On Pages 122-123, the author stated, “All men have equal rights to food, and raiment provided they will earn them.” It also states, “All men have the right to serve God according to the dictates of their own consciences. The poorest slave on earth posses this right — this inherent and inalienable right; and he posses it as completely as the proudest monarch on his throne.”

Although the hardbound cloth covers of both books are well worn, and the yellowed pages have become delicate, the books are a nice addition to the Battle of Franklin Trust historic resources. 

Carole Robinson may be contacted at


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